‘Bad Boys 4’ Sparks a Month of Recovery, Not Riches, For the Box Office

The box office really needed some good news to kick off June, and it got just that from Sony/Columbia’s “Bad Boys: Ride or Die.” The Will Smith-Martin Lawrence action comedy pulled in a $56 million domestic opening this weekend. But while that will help get the market on the road to recovery, the strike delays that have made most of 2024 so miserable so far will still be felt.

After an April and May where “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” was the only film to gross more than $100 million in North America — “IF” is expected to cross that mark next week — theaters entered June in desperate need of higher openings and more consistent output. Overall May grosses sank to $549.7 million, the lowest outside of the pandemic since 1998.

Not only did “Bad Boys 4” deliver a strong opening weekend, it did so with a fairly diverse opening-weekend audience. Black moviegoers, typical for the action series, led the way with a 44% audience share. But despite being a franchise that dates back to 1995, 48% of ticket buyers were under the age of 35. Gender splits were also fairly even at 53% male, compared to 72% male for the opening weekend of the Memorial Day bust “Furiosa.”

Combined, with an A- on CinemaScore and a 5/5 on PostTrak, “Bad Boys 4” has everything it needs to be a major contributor to overall grosses this month. But that’s not going to be enough to completely pull the box office out of the hole it fell into last month.

“We’re running from a standing start at a time when everything is usually already going at a high speed,” said Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian, who noted that the strike delays have created too many lulls in popular new releases to give the market any momentum. “From Jan. 1, we’ve been playing catch up and having to get wind back in the sails again and again and again.”

Consider that industry estimates have the overall total for the weekend coming in at $103.7 million — down 38% from the same weekend last year — meaning that “Bad Boys 4” accounts for more than half of all U.S. theatrical business this weekend. Taking second on the charts this weekend was the third weekend of “The Garfield Movie” with just $10 million.

The last two summers saw monthly totals in June of $1 billion in 2023 and $968 million in 2022. In-month releases like “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” were major contributors. But theaters also enjoyed strong holdover support from big Memorial Day weekend hits like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “The Little Mermaid.”

With “Furiosa” already dropping out of the top 5 this weekend after taking the top spot on Memorial Day weekend, that key support will be missing, even as upcoming films like “Inside Out 2″” and “A Quiet Place: Day One” raise overall totals.

Over the coming month, trackers are forecasting “Inside Out 2” to be the top grossing film, with a predicted $90 million opening. That could position the film to be the first $300 million domestic grosser of 2024. “Quiet Place: Day One” is tracking for a $40 million opening, while specialty films like “Kinds of Kindness” and “The Bikeriders” will look to draw marginal support from younger arthouse audiences that turned out for movies like “Asteroid City” and “Poor Things” last year.

Those films will lift June totals to levels more normally seen in May, building up the momentum for a July where “Despicable Me 4” and “Deadpool & Wolverine” should lead the market back to summer season levels.

The fact that theaters need to hope that the release slate will accomplish that during the heart of the blockbuster season shows how much the strikes, prolonged by the studios’ reluctance to negotiate on performance-based streaming revenue sharing with WGA and SAG-AFTRA, have damaged the usual ebb-and-flow of the theatrical market.

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